I don’t remember which of the kids darted into the kitchen one summer afternoon while I was prepping dinner.
“Look, Mom!” I looked up to find my child with a huge, thick stick protruding from their face. Yanking it down, they said, “I’m getting the log out of my eye!” We had a good laugh as they sauntered back outside to play.
Having a bunch of small kids (six in eleven years) was hard work for many reasons. (When the seventh came by adoption when I had several teens, the help was amazing!) One of the common challenges we faced was sibling bickering. The bigger the family, the more selfishness and arguing abounds! We decided to tackle it by using The Young Peacemaker by Corlette Sande. On a child’s level, she explains the first step in conflict resolution from Matthew 7:5: “…first take the long out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Have you ever had someone remove a splinter? It’s a painful and delicate process. I remember Mom holding a lighter up to a needle, then heading for my sore finger. Ouch! She dug around until she found the small piece of wood as tears fell from my eyes. Imagine, then, having to remove a speck from someone’s eyeball.
Last week I talked about how hard it is to live up to other’s standards. One of the most dangerous things is when we are quick to grab a pin to remove a speck (flaw, weakness, sin, irritation, or just a simple difference) from another’s eye before we get rid of the obvious plank in our own eye. The point isn’t that our issues are necessarily larger than those of our friends or family, but that our own weaknesses or sins should be more clear to us than those of others. Removing a small speck from someone else is certainly easier when a huge plank doesn’t leave us half blind.
The truth is there are specks in others eyes that need removal. Friends betray and gossip. Family members hurt and frustrate. Children fuss and bicker. Spouses neglect and ignore. Co-workers jockey for position. Parents exasperate and demand. In-laws compete.
Specks abound in our fallen, broken world.
The good news is the Bible provides a way for us to completely avoid speck removal: realize that what we think is a speck isn’t one after all. What if our irritation isn’t due to another’s sin or weakness but is just plain frustration over differences or preferences that God thinks is fine so we should, too? Or perhaps the speck is there — and God is calling us to do the tender, tedious work of helping to remove it without gauging out someone’s eye!
My child thought log removal was funny. It’s not. It’s hard, painful work. I know because I’ve had to do it…alot.